Imagine purchasing a new washer and dryer. Inside is a little package with the usual owner’s manual and warranty information, but also … a little usb drive.
Imagine receiving a similar usb drive when you purchase a new car. And another when you buy a piece of furniture. You file them away thinking they might come in handy some day, and time goes on.
One day the dryer stops working. You take off the back hoping it’s an easy fix, and you spot a broken bracket with a number on it. Rooting through the filing cabinet you find the packet with the owner’s manual and usb drive. Pop the drive in the computer, and a digital repair manual automatically appears. A quick search yields the broken bracket; then you right-click and print. Your trusty 3D printer begins to warm up, and minutes later a new bracket is waiting for you fresh off the printer. A couple of bolts later, and your dryer is back in business.
Through the same process you’re able to fix a multitude of problems, from a fried circuit board in your microwave to a broken shock mount in your car. 3D printing doesn’t have to be only for repairs, either. Imagine the possibilities suddenly open to you as you tinker around on your hobbies or design a new playhouse for your kids. Sounds pretty futuristic, doesn’t it? Hopefully, we can see the day when this is as normal as printing out driving directions on your home printer.
For me 3D printing has always been too expensive or cumbersome to really take seriously… until recently. I have seen the light, and here are a few news headlines to help you understand why:
- Surgeons use 3D printing to help fix serious skull defects for young South African girls
- Chinese doctors use 3D-printed replicas to practice separating conjoined twins
- Custom implants created using LENS 3D printing may soon fix complex injuries
- Scientists build a 3D printer that can print objects smaller than red blood cells.
- UC San Diego students prepare to break world record with 3D-printed rocket engine
- NASA funds research to create stronger materials using 3D printing
- Chinese inventor develops the first ever 3D-printed washing machine for shoes
- Create your own 3D-printed carbon fiber racing bike
- World’s first chocolate printer
That is cool and all, but what about applications in our industry?
- Someone’s built a 12.5 meter 3D model of London – and you can play with it
- ElevatedMaps launches to create artistic 3D-printed custom maps of any place in the worldElevated
- 3D-printed social topographies of San Francisco intelligently blend art with data
- Eco-friendly robotic 3D printer produces architecture from soil on-site
- These robots will 3D print a steel bridge over a canal in Amsterdam
- Six incredible 3D-printed buildings: they can 3D print a single family home for $5000 using recycled materials
The cool thing is that this is going on right now. I, for one, can hardly wait to print out my own chocolate and rocket engines!